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Israel: Revocation of Citizenship

(Sept. 8, 2008) On July 28, 2008, the Knesset (Israel's parliament) passed the Nationality Law (Amendment No. 9, 5768-2008). The amendment regulates the revocation of Israeli citizenship in cases specified by law. The main significance of the amendment is the transfer of the authority to revoke citizenship from the Minister of Interior to the Court of Administrative Matters upon the Minister's request.

A judicial determination is required for a revocation requested by the Minister at the termination of a three-year period from the acquisition of citizenship and in cases where the person subject to the request committed an act that constitutes a “breach of loyalty to the State of Israel.” Such a breach is defined as follows: (1) committing, assisting in, or enticing into the commitment of a terrorist act, including taking an active role in the activities of a terrorist organization, as defined by the Prohibition on Financing of Terrorism Law, 5765-2005; (2) committing an act that constitutes treason or aggravated espionage in accordance with the Penal Law, 5737-1977; or (3) acquiring citizenship or a right to permanent residence in a country or an area specified as Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and the Gaza Strip. Judicial approval for a revocation is not required within the first three years after acquisition of citizenship, if that acquisition was based on false information.

A court may decree a revocation of citizenship based on the commission of a “breach of loyalty to the State of Israel” only if the revocation will not result in the person becoming stateless; in the event that it does, the person will be granted a permit of residence in Israel. For the purpose of determination of statelessness, the Law recognizes a presumption that a person who permanently resides outside of Israel will not remain stateless. In proceedings outlined under the Law, the court may deviate from the laws of evidence and admit evidence in the presence of one party only. No hearings, however, will take place in the absence of the person whose citizenship revocation is requested unless (s)he was legally summonsed but did not appear in court. (Nationality Law (Amendment No. 9), 5768-2008 (July 28, 2008), the Knesset website, available at; Nationality Law Bill (Amendment No. 9) (Authority for Revocation of Citizenship), 5768-2007 (Oct. 10, 2007), the Knesset website, available at